Police Strength Statistics

– in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd January 2019.

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Photo of Peter Chapman Peter Chapman Conservative

2. To ask the Scottish Government when it will next publish the police strength statistics for Scotland. (S5O-02800)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

The next edition in the “Police Officer Quarterly Strength Scotland” series, for 31 December 2018, will be published on Tuesday 5 February 2019 at 9.30 am. In line with requirements of the code of practice for official statistics, that publication date has been announced via the Scottish Government’s “Official Statistics—Forthcoming Publications” web page.

Photo of Peter Chapman Peter Chapman Conservative

The latest police figures show that the number of local divisional officers in the north-east has been cut by 42 in the past year alone, which is a clear demonstration of the Scottish National Party’s policy of centralisation and is to the detriment of communities in my region. Can the cabinet secretary assure me that I will not discover further reductions in the next set of statistics?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

On the local policing issue, as at 30 September 2018, the north-east division had 1,158 full-time police officers, which was an increase of 2.3 per cent from 2013.

I have to mention Peter Chapman’s lack of self-awareness in asking the question when, under the SNP-led Scottish Government, we have 913 more officers than we had in 2007, whereas the Conservative-led United Kingdom Government has utterly decimated police services in England and Wales, where there are 20,000 fewer officers, which is a reduction of 13 per cent. In Scotland, we have 32 officers per 10,000 of population; in England and Wales, there are 21 officers per 10,000. Perhaps a little bit of self-awareness is necessary when the member asks such questions. As we are getting into Burns season, he might want to be reminded of those famous verses:

“O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us

To see oursels as others see us!”

Photo of Daniel Johnson Daniel Johnson Labour

I will resist the temptation to quote Burns.

The City of Edinburgh Council currently plans to cut the £2.6 million that it provides the police directly to fund 54 additional community-based officers in the capital. Does the cabinet secretary know the total number of officers who are funded directly by local authorities? What impact have the reductions in local authority spending over the past few years had on the number of community-based officers in Scotland?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I discussed that issue with the member at a recent meeting of the Justice Committee. It is for the local authority to decide how to spend its resource. The member is free to argue otherwise, but I would say that local authorities will receive a very fair settlement in the upcoming budget. If the member thinks that that is not the case, it is incumbent on his party to make proposals on where to remove money from the budget, as we would have to do, to increase the local government budget. No doubt, the member and his party will engage in that process. However, in our investment, we are treating the police fairly and well, with revenue protection plus a 52 per cent increase in the capital budget.

We will continue to invest in the police and in local government. If the member thinks that there should be a change in the budget, he and his colleagues should engage positively in the budget process.